C O M I N G E V E N T S
March 22 WENDY WARNER, and Rachel Barton, violin, in
a concert at the James R. Thompson C enter, 100 West Randolph St., 8:00 p.m.
April 6 ALISA WEILERSTEIN, in the Dvorak concerto, with the Northbrook Symphony, 4:00 p.m. ( call 847-272-0755 for information)
April 16 GARY HOFFMAN, in recital at the Dame Myra Hess concert series, Chicago Cultural Center, 12:15 p.m.
April 20 & 23 Beethoven Complete Music for Cello and P iano, performed by the students of the DePaul University Symphony & Community Music Division, DePaul University, 804 W. Belden, Chicago, 8:00 p.m. (773-325 -7000)
May 16 JOHN SHARP, in recital at North Park College, 3225 W.
Foster Ave., Chicago,
7:30 p.m. (call 773-244-5630)
July 27 HAI-YE NI, with Jennifer Koh, viol in and the
Chicago Symphony in the Brahms Double at R avinia, 7:00 p.m.
While we do our best to be as accurate as possible in these listings, we strongly urge you to check with the sponsoring organizations for poss ible changes in dates and times of all concerts. If you have any concert s that you would like included in this calendar, call David Sanders at (8 47) 864-5991, or Loren Brown at (708) 445-1465. Get them in early!
On January 28, 1997, the cello world lost a great and beloved friend. The death of Raya Garbousova was a monumental loss not only to the cello world, but to the entire world of classical music. One of the most important cellists, and one of the best-known and most admired musicians of the twentieth century, she was loved and respected by all who knew her.
According to the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Madame Garbousova was born in Tbilisi (Tiflis) (Russian Georgia) on September, 25th 1906. [Editor's note: On September 24th, 1994, Garbousova told me th at she was born in 1909, and that the New Grove, as well as Baker's Biogr aphical Dictionary, which lists her dates as October 10, 1905, were both wrong.] Her father was principal trumpet in the Tiflis Symphony, and a c onservatory professor. She began piano lessons at age four, but later ins isted on changing over to the cello. Her first teacher was Konstantin Mi niar, a pupil of Davidov.
Garbousova studied at the Tbilisi Con servatory from 1914-23, and made her debut in Moscow in 1923. In 1924, a t the age of 15, she performed the Rococo Variations in Moscow and Lening rad, where one critic compared her to Emanuel Feuermann, opting in favor of Garbousova's "talent and depth of emotion." She met Feuermann when she was 18, and they became very close friends. At around this same time, s he was playing chamber music with Nathan Milstein and Vladimir Horowitz.
In 1925 Garbousova went to Leipzig, in tending to study cello with Klengel. Klengel interviewed her for three hours, listening to her play etudes and concertos, and pro claimed that she could not be his student because she already knew everyt hing. She went from there to Berlin, where she studied one summer with Hugo Becker. She made her recital debut in Berlin in 1926, where the critics raved about her "colossal talent." From Germany, she went on to debut in Paris in 1927 and London in 1928. While in Paris, she met and studied with Casals. Casals urged her to study with Diran Alexanian, who became a tremendous influ- ence on her cello technique and musician ship.
Her playing was distinguished by charm, outgoing temperament, beauti ful tone and elegant technique, which won her wide acclaim among the cellists of her day. She made her Town Hall debut in New York in 1934, where Olin Downes of the New York Times wrote, "Miss Garbousova's technique is the vehicle of a contagious temperament, musicianship and taste. The cr owning fact is the distinction of her style." From then on she appeared i n recitals and with most of the major orchestras all over the world, maki ng her home in Paris. In 1946 [1939 according to New Grove] she became a citizen of the United States.
Madame Garbousova knew all the great musicians and composers of the twentieth century. In addition to Feuermann, Milstein and Horowitz, she was also friends with Piatigorsky, Rose, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Huberma n, Szigeti, Morini, Stern, Oistrakh, Fournier, du Pré, Starker, Ro stropovich, Nelsova, Greenhouse, and many others too numerous to mention.
Garbousova was a great champion of modern music, and was responsible for
many first performances, including the
see Garbousova..... page 3 ..... Garbousova
Martinu Third Sonata, Prokofiev Sonata and the Barber Concerto, which she commissioned and was written for her. Among the other works written for her are the Cello Concerto by Vittorio Rieti (1956), and the Rapsodia Notturna by Karol Rathaus (1950). She also introduced works by Creston, Hindemith, and Lopatnikoff, and edited many new works for publication.
In addition to her concerts and recordings, Madame Garbousova was in great demand as a teacher, giving master classes at Aspen, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and Indiana University, as well as in China. She wa s on the faculty of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb for many years, and in 1970 she became professor of cello at Hartt College of Music in Connecticut. She was a generous supporter of the Chicago Cello Society, giving several Master Classes and much moral support.
I had the privilege of knowing Raya Garbousova for over 23 years, and she
was a tremendous influence on my cello playing and music making. Being around
her made you love the cello and music. At the time I had arranged to study
with her, I was a member of the Lyric Opera and Grant Park orchestras. The
week before my first lesson I was very nervous about pl aying for her for
the first time. I was at Kenneth Warren and Sons to buy some strings, and
she came into the shop. We hadn't met in person, just spoken over the phone,
so I introduced myself and told her that I was looking forward to playing
for her, but that I was nervous. She started talking to me, and within a
few minutes, I felt as if I had known her all my life...all my nervousness
disappeared. Her ability to put people completely at ease was one of the
things that made studying with her special. You knew you were in the presence
of a great artist, but you felt comfortable enough to play your best.
At my earliest lessons with Raya, she would always be smoking a cigarette. She would hold the cigarette either in her mouth or in her bow hand while she played, and when the ashes would fall over her beautiful Guadagnini cello, she would calmly brush them off! I learned from Roger Malitz, now professor of cello at Ball State University, who had been a student of Raya's before me, that she had done the same thing at his lessons several years earlierwith cigars! One day, I had been playing for about half an hour at one of my lessons, when she complained, "Haven't you noticed any thing?" I hadn't, and she proudly pointed out that she had quit smoking. As far as I know, she never smoked again.
A lesson with Raya Garbousova wasn't just a cello lessonit was an event. My lessons generally lasted at least 3 to 4 hours, and always included a wonderful lunch. Sometimes she would prepare it herself, and other times we would go out. The ones she prepared were great, not just because she was a great cook, but because they gave us plenty of time to talk about music, the cello, and life. She would complain that I wouldn' t drink a little vodka, or at least a beer, but I always declined, saying that I had to drive home.
Raya demonstrated a lot at lessons, and it was magical. No matter how I envisioned a piece, how well prepared I was, she would always bring to it more than I could ever imagine. In pieces like the Debussy Sonata there was such fantasy and imagination; in the last variation of Strauss' <= I>Don Quixote, I would get chills from the pure emotion; in the Rococo Variations, the style, grace and elegance swept me into another world. It was a constant thrill and challenge, and an incredible learning exper ience.
see Garbousova..... page 4 ..... Garbousova
As a teacher, she was inspiring, and also very demanding. When I played a difficult passage well, she would shift her focus to a different a spect of the piece and say "Good, but what about..." Then, when I would focus on this new point, and do it well, she would say, "Yes, but what about...?" She was very generous with her praise, but she always let me know that she thought I could play even better. The love and warmth she showed her students made them believe in themselves.
It is not easy to put into words the profound effect studying the cello and music with Madame Garbousova had on me, and, I'm sure, on others who were fortunate enough to have studied wit h her. Knowing her and being her student was as important to me as anything in my entire career. She started out as my teacher, and she became my friend. I will miss her always.
The Great Cellists by Margaret Campbell (publ., Victor Gollancz L td., London, 1988) has a wonderful section on Madame Garbousova, some of which I used in this article.
Posted by Andrei Pricope on February 4, 1997 at 01:39:16:
Raya Garbousova, legendary cellist and teacher, died yesterday [s ic] at the age of 87. To all of the many musicians who knew her and her rare personality, she will not be forgotten.
Raya Garbousova has long secured a solid place not only in the history of our instrument, but also in the conscience of everyone privileged t o have met her. Through her magnetic personality, deep musical integrity, and boundless humanity, she has touched generations of musicians and mus ic lovers alike. Her passing, tragic and unsettling, takes away one of the very last of the great dames of the cello, an individual of towering noblesse, dignity, and charm. Her enormous impact will live forever.
This July, cellists from all over the world will gather in St. Petersburg, Russia to honor the great traditions of cello playing, to celebrate the new generation of international competition winners as well as thei r renowned teachers, and to promote world harmony. Ever since the first World Cello Congress, held at the University of Maryland in 1988, Mstislav Rostropovich has held out hope that the next international assembly of cellists would take place in his native Russia. His dream is about to be realized in St. Petersburg. Appropriately, cellists who gather there al so will be celebrating Slava's 70th birthday.
Corporate and foundation funding for this event has come from Europe , Asia
and North America. Most of the events of the Congress will take place in
St. Petersburg's Philharmonic Hall, with others at the Grand Hotel Europe.
The events will be broadcast on Russian TV's channel 2, and th roughout Eastern
Europe. Coverage for the United States will be provided by PBS by Maryland
Public Television. A video of the Congress is also being planned.
Two travel packages will be available: one for Congress participant s and musicians; another for tourists and music lovers. Besides the musical events, there will be tours of cultural attractions. An arrange ment for cello rentals in St. Petersburg is being sought, and an airfare package is under negotiation.
Among the events will be concerts with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra (with Slava conducting), recitals, master classes, seminars, a luthiers' exhibit, open rehearsals, and a 200-cello ensemble.
One of the concerts will honor Raya Garbousova. In another, several renowned cellists will perform music in tribute to their teachers. Anot her will feature the great cellists of France. The rising young stars of the cello world including Alban Gerhardt and Wendy Warner will perform. Multi cello groups, including Conjunto Iberico, Cellissimo Ensemble, and Cello Ensemble Saito, will perform. There will be a session on electronic and unconventional forms of cello-playing. There also will be opportuni ties to observe the world-renowned expert, Yelena Dernova, demonstrate me thods of teaching cello to young children. She will share one program wi th Sean Grissom and several young Russian students. David Hardy will share a program on contemporary cello literature with Cecylia Barczyk, Thomas Demenga and Siegfried Palm.
Brochures for the Congress will be available in January. However, you can contact Helene Breazeale of Towson State University, College of Fine Arts and Communication, Baltimore, MD 21252. Dr. Breazeale is the Executive Director of the event, and can be reached at 410-830-3451.
There is another World Cello Congress being planned as well, for the year 2000. It will be the third week of June, when the Baltimore Symphony and Towson State University jointly will host World Cello Congress III 2E
The annual Piatigorsky Seminar for Cellists resumes June 7-14 at the University of Southern California, under the direction of Eleonore Schoe nfeld. Applications are due February 1st, with auditions March 14-17 in New York City and Los Angeles. Twelve advanced cellists at the threshold of their professional careers are invited. Travel expenses, living acco mmodations, meals, and an accompanist are provided. The faculty will include Denis Brott, David Geringas, and Bernard Greenhouse. For in formation, contact Professor Schoenfeld at (213) 740-3103.
Leopold Auer on the Cello
The cello is essentially a melody instrument, a lyric instrument. It is the baritone voice among the strings, and the sustained melodic line and not the brilliant coloratura passage is its natural mode of expression. It is true that there are exceptions to these rules: that a David Popper could exploit its higher registers in the compositions strikingly effective in their swift tempos and brilliant passage-work; that a Pablo Casals can do anything, emotionally or technically, with the instrument, and make us forget while he is playing it that his instrument is a cello wi th specific limitations of a cello, and remember only his mastery of the strings and the string tone. But, generally speaking, the cello as a solo instrument, lacks the varied possibilities of tone inflection which the violin possesses. Beethoven wrote ten sonatas and a concerto for the violin he wrote only five sonatas for the cello.
46rom Violin Playing As I Teach It (1921)
The second International Leonard Rose Cello Competition and Festival will be held July 17-26, 1997, at the University of Maryland at College Park. The events of the festival will include recitals, masterclasse s, lecture-recitals and demonstrations by Carter Brey, Antonio Meneses, Sharon Robinson, Paul Katz, Alban Gerhardt, Maria Kliegel, Stephen Kates, Zara Nelsova, Frans Helmerson, Aurora Natola-Ginastera, Siegfried Palm and Collin Carr, and a joint recital by Siegfried Palm and Bruno Canino. There will also be a tribute to Leonard Rose, featuring artists and ensembles of the National Capital Cello Club. Competition semifinal and final rounds will be part of the schedule of events.
The international jury for the competition includes Zara Nelsova, chair, Colin Carr, Paul Katz, Stephen Kates, Maria Kliegel, Antonio Meneses and Aurora Natola Ginastera.
First prize for the competition is $20,000 and a recital at Alice Tu lly Hall in New York City.
For more information, please contact:
Cello Competition and Festival
4321 Hartwick Road, Suite #220
College Park, MD 20740
phone: (301) 403-8370
fax: (301) 403-8375
All technical problems of playing demand analysis and a lot of practice.
In perfecting one's playing it is always necessary to keep in mind that the
purpose of music, as of the other arts, is the expression of the human heart.
Leonardo da Vinci was not only a great artist but a great scientist as well;
Benvenuto Cellini was a great artist but also had a pr ofound knowledge of
metals and enamels. But few persons are so gifted as to know how to make
bricks and be great architects at the same time. Wh at an interpretive artist
must guard against is the over-intellectualization of his art. He may play
correctly, but if that intangible spark is missing, of what importance
is his playing? Analysis and technic should be subordinated to the sensitivity
of feeling of the player. Practice diligently and lay bare the anatomy of
the music. But only if you can sing the music freely-and learn how to play
it while singing it-can you communicate its meaning, for that is a matter
of emotions of the heart, the composer's and yours.
For anyone who has been living in a vacuum, anyone with a computer and a modem can access the Internet and the World Wide Web. Among the millions of web sites is the Internet Cello Society (http://www 2Ecello.org/).
The Internet Cello Society is a virtual community that seeks to share the richness and knowledge of music with cellists and music enthusiasts from around the globe. ICS members are presently from across North America as well as from England, Germany, Italy, Singapore, Austria, Portugal , Sweden, New Zealand and Israel. The Internet Cello Society is housed o n a World Wide Web site which allows for the quick transfer of informatio n in the form of text, graphics, movies, and sounds to anywhere in the world.
The Internet Cello Society offers a variety of online services for
A Cello Introduction, an interactive multimedia presentation.
"Tutti Celli," an electronic monthly newsletter.
Young Cellists, Professional Performers, Teachers, Cellist-By-Night Forums.
Library archives provide instant access to cello society newsletters , articles, music bibliographies, and reference materials.
Membership register (optional) that can be searched by name, city, country, teacher and other criteria.
Classifieds and advertisements.
Links to other Internet music resources.
Free web page for any cellist, professional or amateur. Write Drcello for information about the free web page.
To join the Internet Cello Society, which is free, simply send an e- mail
message to CelloTalk@aol.com and type "new member" in the subject field.
Another great cello internet site is Cello and Cellist, which has recently
merged with the Internet Cello Society:
Among the many features of this web site are:
Great Cellists of History
Professional Cellists with Web Pages
Amateur Cellists with Web Pages
Cello Products for Sale
Information of Particular Interest to Cellists
Dr. Cello's Free Web Pages for Cellists
Cello Pen Pals
Cello Job Openings
Miscellaneous Music Links
It should always be one of the pupil's principal aims in practicing, to acquire a sonorous and powerful tone. Of course he is fortunate if the possession of a good instrument having a clear and full tone and answering ready to the bow on all notes favors him in the attainment of this object. But if he relies solely on this accidental advantage, thinking that it will obviate the necessity of careful study to obtain a good tone, and that by mere physical force he will, after all, be able to produce the power and fullness required, he will be easily surpassed by others less favored with regard to the quality of the instrument but knowing how to manage the latter more skillfully and correctly. A full and rich tone is not obtained by excessive exer tion, but by judicious distribution of strength.
The fingers of the left hand add greatly to this if they are at all times set firmly upon the strings in order to allow them the necessary freedom for vibration. Placing them upon the strings negligently and languidly hinders free vibration and produces a dull and subdued tone.
For the rest, the tone depends exclusively on the skillful management of the bow; and the force to be applied in bowing should reside in and result from a free sweep of the bow, rather than heavy pressure on the string.
The bowing must also be done in as straight a line as possible, i.e. , care
should be taken that the hair remains exactly on that point of the string
where it began the note to the very end of the bow; it never should move
up or down towards bridge or fingerboard. The student, for this reason, should
take care that the point of the bow be never raised nor lowered more than
is exactly necessary.
The most suitable place for drawing the bow across the string is about two inches from the bridge, and this is equally suitable for brilliant passages and for sustained notes requiring a sonorous tone. It is left to the player's judgment, in passages of great softness, to play a little nearer the finger board, and in those that require stronger emphasis, to play nearer the br idge. He will naturally be mainly guided by his own observations on the individual condition of his instrument.
If the student, while bestowing attention upon perfect intonation and strict time, follows the way we have indicated, with time and diligence he will become an accomplished player. The violoncello offers many advantages as compared with other instruments. On account of its beautiful tone it is, before all others, adapted to touch the soul and the heart of the listener if only it be played with true feeling. A few notes on it are sometimes far more ef fective than many elaborate passages; the player should, therefore, avoid all overcrowding of graces &c.; they certainly can change the form of a composition, they perhaps embellish it, but they can never breathe life into it. Let the pupil remember that the highest aim of the virtuoso's skill is to breathe life and soul into the body which the composer has fashioned of tones.
see Kummer..... page 16 2E.... Kummer
The power to attain these results is a matter of artistic temperament, an emotional product which is purest and noblest when it springs from natural and unaffected simplicity.
But as we are neither in possession of means to measure the imagination, nor of expressions to determine the different sentimental faculties of the mind, we are unable to give sufficient theoretical rules on the su bject. We must therefore look for models which incite and cultivate these mental faculties: as such we may take all artists who know how to give warmth, sentiment and life to their productions.
With regard to the crescendo and decrescendo, the very basis for the execution of the cantelena, we may take a good singer as principal model and imitate him on the instrument or the pupil may follow the example of a good instrumentalist. On paper these different fine lights and shades can, of course, be expressed but imperfectly.
Sometimes a player can lend more brilliancy and expression to a tone by a certain oscillation, produced by placing the finger firmly upon the string and letting the hand make a tremulous motion; in order to be able to do this with more freedom, the thumb is laid quite loosely on the nec k of the instrument. This oscillation, or "close trill," as it is someti mes called, is marked by the sign ~.
We would, however, warn the pupil not to let this practice become a fixed habit and the leading style of his playing. He must never unlearn the art, to be able to draw with sharper outlines. Let him also take heed not to change the tempo too often, i.e., not to hurry or retard in certain passages; this would unavoidably lead to a morbid state of constant wavering. Only a reasonable and judicious use of this grace, to represent increased passion, will agreeably stimulate the fancy of the listeners.
The gradual sliding up or down of the finger from one note to the other in intervals of thirds, fourths, &c., certainly produces an agreeable effect at times; but we must again warn the pupil to abstain from the continual, or even frequent, use of this grace. Ear and feeling run the risk of being so completely spoiled by these habits that after a time even the greatest exaggerations in these graces seem tasteful to the player; while any ear that is not so spoiled would be an unpleasantly affected by them, as by continual moaning and wailing.
The habit of trying to indicate expressive passages by affectedly rocking head and body to and fro is equally reprehensible. Expression ca n be produced only by correct shading of the tones, never by affected motions; it is through the ear, not the eye of the listener that his feelings are to be acted upon by the artist. In rapid or difficult passages, the greatest possible physical repose is an advantage which the learner sho uld acquire. However much the multitude may imagine that the player is executing something extraordinary only when he visibly makes violent efforts, the true artist and connoisseur know very well that it is an essential quality of an accomplished player never to let the listener perceive that one passage is more difficult than another.
Reprinted from Newsletter of the Violoncello Society, Inc., Jeffrey Solow , editor, Fall, 1995.
PART 1: LONDON, SEPTEMBER 1, 1995
What are some of the first things you notice in a new pupil?
I talk to them to learn about their makeup, their mentality, and their approach to music. What are their motives? I expect them to say "I want to be a musician," not just a cellist, though few say so. My start ing point is the person, and it's the person I get involved with immediat ely. I like to see how that person is balanced in order for something to come through the instrument when they play. Not only their aims, but aspects of their past studies interest me.
A young French cellist once came to me and it wasn't long before I discovered she was on the brink of suicide. She had spent one whole year with a teacher on nothing but finger exercises. If you're only like a doctor who dispenses medicine impersonally, you will not be able to do much for your pupils other than helping them with a fingering or bowing.
In your book Cello you speak about the dangers of separating technique from music. Do you believe that the cello playing of today is in part a result of the emphasis on the perfection of technique, on the craft of playing?
First of all, perfection of technique doesn't exist. It's an ongoing process and it's endless. However, I believe that the way technique is handled actually limits its development. Reaching out for technique co mes through encountering great works of art. Various sentiments, for example, can be expressed through different kinds of finger pressure. What w orries me is that it is very natural to be unnatural. Fear, determination, and tension are the enemies. Pupils come to me who are so intent on the fight to play the cello that they have actually closed off their capacity to listen. And, of course, how you concentrate comes out through the fingers and heart.
The question is: are you going to lower the music to your technique or raise the technique to meet the demands of the music? The Haydn D Major Concerto, first movement, has those arpeggiated passages that go right up the cello, and how do most cellists I hear play it? With convenience fingerings that do little to express the soaring virtuosity of the music. The cellist has to be as courageous as the passage. I hardly find that anywhere-instead, comfortable, easy fingerings, playing it safe, playing what works. This mentality limits technique rather than stretches it.
I expect people to master any number of fingerings for the same passage. They should know the map of the cello to develop their versatility and imagination. If they know what sounds and characters are produced b y various fingerings, then they have earned the right to choose. Cellists should be able to conceive colors before they put in fingerings, like good conductors who know what colors and nuances they want to hear from the various instruments. In the Brahms Op. 99 Scherzo, the repeated Cs in the cello part possess a contrasting color that is echoed by the piano in the opening bars of the
see Pleeth..... page 18 ..... Pleeth
movement. (See Example 1.) Most cellists, however choose a convenient fingering that negates the color, covering the sound as the passage rises by moving across to the D string, rather than opening up the sound by finishing on the A string.
Example 1: Brahms Sonata in F Major, Op. 99, Scherzo, mm. 33-36
The development of the germ of a student's thinking is what is important. Everything is there to be seen. Electricity was found, not made; it was there, after all, waiting to be discovered. This business of people running from one teacher to another, hoping to pick up this or that kno wledge slows down inventiveness and the powers of observation. Whatever the given abilities of the pupil, imagination and inventiveness must be d eveloped. I never had a lesson after the age of sixteen.
In your teaching, you often mention aspects of the music related to a particular culture, tradition, and language. Why is it important for the pupil to make these connections?
If you went to the theater on different evenings and saw Shakespeare , Ibsen, Weill, and Coward, would you expect the actors to perform them in the same way? What I hear in most musical performances is the equivalent of wearing the same clothes and mouthing the same words. Why? Because language and culture are not investigated. In the Debussy sonata, cell ists often don't understand that it is a primitive work. Ravel and Debussy were fascinated by primitive, old cultures--Debussy in particular by early Spanish culture. The last movement figure is not flirtatious; it has a Moorish flavor. (See example 2.)
Example 2: Debussy Sonata, Finale, mm. 7-14
It was a revelation to me to observe your teaching of the Bach solo Suites. Could you speak about your approach to these works?
In a nutshell, forget about any bowings marked in the part, so that the pupil can see voicings and shapes clearly, as a keyboard player would 2E It helps to avoid making wrong slurs and brings out the inherent counterpoint. I abhor all these editions. [Using editions of Bach] is like coping with a garden full of weeds. It side tracks the pupil, making it more difficult to discover the architecture of the music. Furthermore, students don't question them. I believe there is an edition in America which has no markings of any sort [Vandersall Editions].
Speaking of style, I occasionally get a reaction from pupils by play ing
them The Swan in the style of Bach. They laugh and say that it sounds
quite funny. "Why then," I ask, "do you play Bach in the style of Saint
Saëns and don't laugh?"
see Pleeth..... page 19 ..... Pleeth
I believe these distortions of style have come about for several reasons. First of all, pitch has to do with geist. Sounds reflect the emotion of a piece, and, of course, over time pitch has been changing. All my life I have played on pure gut A and D strings on my Strad. It should be part of string players' education to learn to handle gut strings with their different textures and sounds. I once asked a pianist playing the Beethoven A Major sonata, Op. 69, to withhold the use of the pedal. He looked at me as if it weren't possible, but when he finished, he said, "Isn't it marvelous? One hears all the lines so clearly." We begin to approach what spirituality these composers were after through sound. And we can embrace less of this one-sided approach to sound that afflicts so much of modern performance.
Another phenomenon I encounter amongst cellists is the habitual vibrato. They can't switch it off, even if they want to. I remember one pupil in particular who vibrated in mid-air when she played on open strings! Again, it's a question of the physics reflecting the sentiment. What kind of sensitivity would make people play Palestrina like Pagliacci and vice versa? When we walk on ice, our feet instinctively seek a dif ferent tread than if we're walking on firm ground. When it comes to cell o playing, we need to develop much more sensory awarenessthe capacity to listen.
What neglected works of value for the cello might you like to draw our readers' attention?
There are two aspects to the host of wonderful 19th-century cello concertos. Most of the so-called second-class cello music doesn't get played, while much of the second-class violin music does. These concertos are also wonderful vehicles for learningworks by Volkmann, Molique, Li ndner, D'Albert. As a kid, I learned thirty two concertos with my professor, Julius Klengel. This included a few of t he standards, of course. It was part of our training. The Pizzetti sonata , for example is lovely Verdi for the cello. Cellists are often brainwash ed into thinking our repertoire is limited. I think it is our process of investigation that is limited. Students must be nosy. There are thousands of Baroque sonatas. Even if we don't learn them all, we should know abou t them.
Regarding encores, I used to like to play something slow and send the audience to bed quietly. Not noisy applause-getters, as is so much the fashion. It's a habit of the ego to want to tickle the palate. If you have that other side, to be able to delight an audience with something magical is enough.
The problem is that as we go along the path of history, someone comes and rolls up the carpet behind us, behind our journey. Yet in order to go forward, one must be able to go back. That's why it's all so limited. W e have too many one-character musicians.
PART II: LONDON, NOVEMBER, 19, 1995
How do you address the undesirable habits of pupils when they come to you for study?
The matter of physics and the natural laws of movement governal l that we
do, not only playing the cello. I am amazed how people make simple things
difficult for themselves by getting in their own way. They actually practice
the unnatural when the natural is there all along for them. It
see Pleeth..... page 20 ..... Pleeth
goes back to what I said before about the unnatural being accepted as normal; making effort above and beyond what is necessary is considered natural.
Another habit concerns fingerings and editions and the blind acceptance of pupils who proceed to learn without questioning what they see on t he page and what they are given by their teachers. This mechanical way of thinking is prevalent at all levels of playing. To address these habits, I begin by minutely digging around to develop a different way of think ing. I might say to the pupil "If you were teaching me, how would you work it out?" While they are explaining it to me, I will guide them a bit. I am interested to see the blunders they make, because they learn in the process of making these mistakes.
Unfortunately, few have the courage to be imaginative. They are accustomed to being spoken down to and told they are wrong. I think they should be encouraged to start opening their own minds, to develop their powers of investigation and of hearing. Dictating to a pupil deprives them of their ability to learn for themselves and eventually provokes mechanic al responses, a kind of thinking that sits in grooves.
May I address the matter of listening here. One must develop an ear , which is like the eye of the painter, able to receive. After all, if y ou go into a rose garden, the nose immediately picks up the scent of rose s. You have nothing to do to smell except be in a state to receive. Bad habits come from dead ears.
Another thing that shocks me is a lack of rhythm. Strength of rhyth m is missing even in advanced players. In the opening bars of the Saint- Saëns Concerto in A Minor, cellists often garble the notes, playing them so fast that they are out of time with the orchestra. One of the problems in their training is that players are encouraged to be expressive, to do what they like before they have learned the discipline of playing in time. Something must be there to start withthe basic structure. Only when they have understood the skeleton have they earned the right to explore the expressive possibilities. After all, the logic of timing is form. Movement is defined within a structure and a framework.
Students may complain that you are compromising their freedom of expression. but the room for individuality is vast, even when the score is carried out to the letter. If you, as a musician, can give me a reason f or what you are doing (whether right or wrong), at least you know why, and we can discuss it. But if you don't know, then choice is not possible.
How do you cultivate in your pupils an awareness and a sensitivity to sound as an expression of affect, of emotion, of color?
I find sound so limited in general, again, the one vibrato business. Sound goes from cold to hot and a million shades in between. What would you say about someone who painted in one color? A large part of the picture is the language and culture of a piece. Players haven't got a picture to evoke, as in the Debussy sonata, for example, with its primitive culture. As I mentioned earlier, the theme of the finale is not flirty, not lush like Rachmaninoff; it has a certain nasal quality reminiscent of Moorish chants.
see Pleeth..... page 21 ..... Pleeth
Just to play in one way, with one all purpose sound and without any attempt to recognize stylistic differences, is a negation of the music. The themes in Schelomo, which bring to mind the shofar and the sufferings of two thousand years of Jewish culture, are often rendered with a fat sound and throbbing vibrato; only one of many colors embraced in this idiom. To portray this culture is to expres a thousand different sounds.
You have an unusual approach to the use of the thumb in the left hand. Would you explain your views?
I think the left thumb should be free, much in the way pianists allow their thumbs freedom to range over the keys while they use their finger s. the thumb should not be tied down, especially when vibrating in thumb position and playing scales. Cellists play as if they are afraid to lose the place of their thumb, and they fight their own vibrato by holding d own their thumb in octave formation. The dog doesn't go forward because it wags its tail; the tail wags as the dog walks.
If you were a young cellist today, what might you be looking for in a teacher?
Someone to support my own thinking and guide me along my path. I would expect a teacher to allow me to pretend I am giving him or her a lesson. Someone who en courages my inventiveness and imagina tion, who understands my physical makeup and will work with the unique po ssibilities of my structureall the foregoing are essential. Will the teacher be able to point out my basic weaknesses? The job of a teacher is to discover the hidden qualities in you that you don't know you've got. Someone who entices you to copy is not encouraging you to discover the potential you possess. And finally, a student should not be inhibited by the fear of making errors. Mistakes give birth to knowledge.
How do you advise teachers to continue their own development, both as players and pedagogues, in a profession that allows little free time?
That's a difficult one. If they are wise teachers, their development should stem from the fact that they teach a wide range of pupils, w hich supplies knowledge in itself. If they are only interested in teachin g a system or method, then the possibilities are fewer.
A word about talent: Whoever gave it, wherever it came from, we don' t know. But never be vain about the talent you have, because you didn't make it in the first place. It was already there for you. At most, you may give yourself a little pat on the back, provided you treat it with respect and integrity.
Cellist Selma Gokcen is a soloist with major symphony orchestras and p erforms in chamber music recitals throughout Europe and America. She is a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, where her teachers included Leonard Rose, Channing Robbins, William Lincer, and Robert Mann. She currently resides in London, where she is a member of the faculty at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Reprinted with permission from the Journal of the American String Teacher s Association, Winter, 1997, Laura Reed, editor.
Robert Smith, long-time cellist with the Chicago Symphony, came from a family of four sons, all who played musical instruments from early age s. At nine years old in Oregon, Illinois, he began cello lessons, four y ears after he had started playing the violin. While he attended Chicago Musical College, he was a student of Daniel Saidenberg, then the Chicago Symphony's principal cellist.
Bob was a member of the Civic Orchestra for four years, and he was a ppointed to the Chicago Symphony by Frederic Stock in 1940. His tenure in the orchestra was interrupted by four years in the Air Force as a mechanic.
Bob retired from the Chicago Symphony in 1986, after 46 years. One of the many unsung heroes of the cello section, he could, and did, play everything. He had wonderful, inventive fingerings for complex passages, which he was happy to share with his younger colleagues. He loved playing, and he loved being a member of the orchestra.
Last December, two Chicago Symphony cellists became engaged. Steve Balderston became engaged to Megan Brady on December 28th, and Richard Hirschl became engaged to Nancy Rogers on December 31st. Both are planning August weddings. Congratulations and good luck to both (all four) of th em!
The National Cello Institute, Rick Mooney, Director, will take place this summer from June 22-28. Now in their third decade, registrations a re due by May 15, 1997. For information, call 909-592-4222, or write:
National Cello Institute
956 Sentinel Dr.
La Verne, CA 91750.
The eighth annual Margaret Rowell String Seminar will take place this summer from June 16-20. Registrations are due by May 5, 1997. For inf ormation, call Irene Sharp at 415-759-3462, or write:
Margaret Rowell String Seminar
San Francisco Conservatory of Music
1201 Ortega St.
San Francisco, CA 94122-4498
Attn: Laura Reynolds Chrisp
Assistant for Summer Programs
The meeting of March 31, 1997 will celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Violoncello Society. Performing will be Stephen Kates, Barbara Stei n Mallow and Sean Grissom. Congratulations to this great Cello Society!
With the recent passing of Raya Garbousova, the music world lost an outstanding cellist and teacher. She was a phenomenal artis t whose musicianship was effortlessly expressed in her playing.
Madame Garbousova was my teacher for a time, and I was always fascinated by her incredibly facile technique whenever she warmed up before les sons, often playing various Paganini Caprices. I couldn't imagine what it must have been like to hear her perform in concert.
Audiences who had the opportunity to hear her play were lucky indeed! When she retired from the concert stage to devote her time to teaching, those of us who had never heard her live performances felt deprived of the chance to experience her artistry.
Fortunately, we have recordings of her recitals which showcase her incredible talent. Two concertsone in Town Hall and one at the Libr ary of Congressdemonstrate that her playing in a concert setting wa s as impeccable and precise as a modern recording which can be patched and redone until a good product is achieved.
The Library of Congress recital, in which she is accompanied by Theodore Seidenberg, features the Schubert Arpeggione, the von Weber <= I>Sonatina and the Fauré Elegie. Performing the Arpeggione on the cello is a daunting task, but not for Garbousova, who transcends the physical difficulties of the work and brings out the beauty of the music. The von Weber and the Fauré are similarly played with her distinctive, virtuosic style.
The Town Hall recital, which took place around 1950, includes the Beethoven F Major Sonata, the Prokofiev Sonata, and a Vivaldi D minor concerto, originally written for violin. Garbousova makes it sound as though it had really been intended for the cello! Pianist David Steimer accompa nies her at this recital, and their partnership demonstrates how wise Gar bousova was in choosing her pianists.
Other records by Garbousova, dating from the 1940's, include major sonatas
which are often performed today, notably works by Debussy, Barber and Strauss,
as well as less frequently performed concert-pieces. Wagner's Prize Song
from Die Meistersinger would probably not be played on a cello recital
today, nor would his To the Evening Star<= /I> from Tannhauser.
Similarly, the Albeniz Malaguena, Deb ussy's Minuet from
see Garbousova recordings..... page 6 2E.... Garbousova recordings
the Petite Suite and the Chopin Waltz in A Minor, while eng aging and worthwhile works, are not often included in the modern cellist' s concert repertoire. Garbousova's sparkling performances of these works make a compelling case for giving these gems more exposure today. Her pianist on these records, Artur Balsam, is another good musical partner fo r her, as is Erich-Itor Kahn, with whom she recorded the Strauss Sonata a nd the Stravinsky Suite Italienne.
The overwhelming impression one gets from listening to these recordi ngs is that Garbousova was a thoroughly modern cellist for whom clarity of articulation, facility of technique, and grace of phrasing were paramou nt. There was nothing corny or schmaltzy about her playing.
In trying to describe Madame Garbou sova's playing, I'm reminded of a quote from the British magazine Punch, which stated that to criticize P.G. Wodehouse's novels was "like t aking a spade to a soufflé." That's exactly what it feels like to try to analyze her playing. It's best to simply listen, enjoy, and remember what a truly unique musician she was.
Raya Garbousova, cello
Strauss-Sonata in F Major
1E Chopin-Waltz in A Minor
Wagner-Prize Song from Die Meistersinger
Wagner-To the Evening Star from Tannhauser
CPE Bach-Largo from Concerto in A Major
Erich-Itor Kahn, piano
Debussy-Minuet from Petite Suite
Artur Balsam, piano
Library of Congress Recital
Theodore Seidenberg, piano
Town Hall Recital
David Steimer, piano
Vivaldi-D Minor violin concerto
Beethoven-F Major sonata
Fauré-Sicilliene and Papillion
Among the many articles appearing about the death of Raya Garbousova comes the following excerpt from the National Capital Cello Club Newsletter.
The eminent American biographer, Francis Steegmuller, once wrote:
The Soviet cellist, Daniel Shafran, has died at the age of 75. He began his cello studies with his father, the principal cellist o f the Leningrad Philharmonic, at the age of six. At the age of eight, h e began studies with Aleksander Shtrimer, and at the age often, he was c hosen to attend the Leningrad Conservatory, continuing his studies with Shtrimer. That year he performed in public for the first time, playing the Spinning Song and Elfentanz of Popper. The next year he made his orchestral debut playing the Rococo Variations with the Leningrad Philharmonic. In 1937, Shafran achieved national prominence when he entered t he Soviet Union's National Cello Competition as an unofficial contestant and was awarded the first prize. Part of the award was a cello by Antonio Amati made in 1630, on which he played the rest of his life. At both t he World Democratic Youth Festival in Budapest in 1949 and the Hanus Wiha n Contest in Prague in 1950, the year he graduated from the Leningrad Con servatory, he shared the first prize with Rostropovich.
In 1977, Shafran made his American debut at Carnegie Hall with the New Jersey Symphony. For many years, he toured widely at home and abroad, visiting the US, Latin America, Australia and Japan, in addition to the major capitals of Europe.
Shafran was greatly respected as a teacher although he was never affiliated with any musical institution. He made many wonderful recordings, especially those of the two Kabalevsky concertos. The second concerto was dedicated to Shafran by Kabalevsky. The two collaborated on a historic recording with the composer conducting.